SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's tennis team won at three of the top four singles positions, but was edged out by UC Riverside at Scottsdale Community College, 4-3. NAU dropped the ever crucial doubles point and by virtue of a split in singles, the Lumberjacks fell to 2-5 on the season with just one match remaining prior to the start of the Big Sky season.
"There's no doubt that the guys fought hard," said men's assistant tennis coach Joseph Heckley. "The top of our lineup really came through, but we need to work on consistency from our lower half of our lineup. Our energy needs to improve on court. I think we needed this loss as a wake-up call before we get into conference play. This loss shows what we need to work on and it's only going to help us going forward."
The Lumberjacks, 8-1 when winning the doubles point dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season, fell behind in the match to the Highlanders Saturday morning. UC Riverside's Calvin Ngo and Julian Ruffin cruised to an 8-1 victory over NAU's No. 3 doubles pair of sophomores Kester Black and Trevor Unger to begin the match. The doubles matches at the No. 1 and 2 spots were contested though and the Lumberjacks had a chance to pull out the doubles point. However, seniors Robert Martin and Shaun Waters came up short at No. 1, falling to UCR's Simon Peters and Jimmy Roberts, 8-6. The Lumberjacks were ahead at the second position when the doubles point was clinched.
The Lumberjacks got right back into the match though in singles as Black knocked off Kevin Griffin at No. 4, 6-2, 6-3. After the Highlanders won at No. 6, senior Patrick Schimmelbauer evened the match score for the second time when he posted his team-leading third win of the season, 6-3, 7-5, over UCR's Luis Gastao.
The match would come down to the final three singles matches as both teams dueled to three-sets in each. However, UC Riverside proved to be victorious as Ngo and Ruffin outlasted Martin and junior Dominic Bermudez at the No. 5 and 3 spots respectively to take the match. Waters concluded Saturday's neutral-site contest with a three-set victory at the top position.
"The top half of our lineup played big points and they don't let small things bother them," Heckley said. "They play one point at a time and they're even-keeled."
The Lumberjacks will be back in action next weekend in the state of Colorado with matches on Saturday and Sunday. They will play at Air Force on Saturday at 4 p.m. before opening up their conference season on Sunday at Northern Colorado at 9 a.m.
1. Simon Peters/Jimmy Roberts (UCR) def. Robert Martin/Shaun Waters (NAU), 8-6*
2. Dominic Bermudez/Patrick Schimmelbauer (NAU) vs. Kevin Griffin/Marcus Vizcarra (UCR), unfinished (NAU leading 6-5)
3. Calvin Ngo/Julian Ruffin (UCR) def. Kester Black/Trevor Unger (NAU), 8-1
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (3, 1)
1. Waters (NAU) def. Roberts (UCR), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
2. Schimmelbauer (NAU) def. Luis Gastao (UCR), 6-3, 7-5
3. Ruffin (UCR) def. Bermudez (NAU), 1-6, 6-4, 6-4**
4. Black (NAU) def. Griffin (UCR), 6-2, 6-3
5. Ngo (UCR) def. Martin (NAU), 7-6, 1-6, 6-2
6. Vizcarra (UCR) def. Alan Barrios (NAU), 6-4, 7-5
Order of Finish: (4, 6, 2, 5, 3, 1)